Jan 29 2014

Features and Benefits – Are They The Same?

features vs benefits

Customers Buy Benefits

“Pick up that ashtray from the table and sell it to me.” Those were my instructions for the exercise. I was at my first sales training for a summer sales job. We were getting into the real “stuff” of selling that morning. We were learning how to sell cookware. The company was about to unleash 150 or more of us college students to start knocking doors and setting new sales records. It was my chance to show the other students that I knew how to sell. After all, I was a college student… I knew everything!

An ashtray? How hard could this be? I picked it up, admired it for a moment, then started describing it in great detail to the class. I talked about the beautiful color highlights, the smooth glass-like finish, the fine detail of the etching around the bottom. For the next 90 seconds, I described every possible detail. I handled it as though it was a piece of fine art. I was convinced even the non-smokers in the room would want to start smoking just to be able to use such a beautiful ashtray!

And then the moment of truth. Our instructor asked if anyone in the room felt compelled to own the ashtray. Two hands went up. Only two. I thought I was in a room full of zombies. How could they NOT want such a cool ashtray! My sales pitch was flawless. I didn’t say “um” even once.

OK, so maybe I didn’t know everything. As it turns out, no one cared what I was saying. I was listing all the features of the ashtray. – the color, size, weight, etc. None of that mattered because I didn’t tell them why those features would benefit them. While I was rattling off features, they were thinking, “Yeah, so what. What’s in it for me?” They saw no benefit for themselves.

That’s a huge lesson for any salesperson or marketer trying to sell a product or idea.

Customers Buy Benefits, Not Features.

A typical computer salesperson goes on and on about how much memory a machine has, how big the hard drive is, the speed of the processor , and on and on. Most people will stare blankly while they try to figure out what it all means. Those are features. They want to know what it means to them. How will it benefit them? They want to hear the machine will run fast. They want to know it has plenty of room to store their massive music library. They want to know they can run several programs at the same time without the machine blowing up. They Want To Know The Benefits!

The next time you find yourself describing a feature, use this simple “SO THAT” formula:

This product has {feature}, SO THAT you can {benefit}.

Simple, isn’t it? There really is a difference between features and benefits. Your thoughts?

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